Google No Longer Allows Review Gating or Cherry Picking Reviews
Google changed its Terms of Service in the last year on the policies concerning reviews on your Google My Business profile. This change is centered on what is known as review gating, also known as cherry picking reviews.
This change in policy directly affects the reviews and reputation management of many practices, as well as reviews and ratings platforms that are used to solicit reviews from clients and patients. But what does this change mean for you exactly?
Read on to learn what has changed and what you need to know about it.
What’s Different about the Review Policy
So what exactly has changed? Google’s Terms of Service now includes this language: “Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.” Basically, this means that Google has now clearly made it against policy to only ask for positive reviews, or to not allow negative reviews to be posted to your Google Business Listing.
Google knows that many consumers make decisions based on online reviews (91% of consumers read them and 84% of consumers trust them as much as a friend’s opinion, according to Inc.com). As a result, it is important to the search giant to make sure reviews are an accurate representation of a business’s reputation and customer service. By ensuring that reviews that are posted for a business are not just the positive reviews the business is allowing to be posted, Google is following its practice of striving to be a neutral source of information for searchers.
What Is Review Gating?
Essentially, review gating (or cherry picking) is the practice of only allowing positive reviews to be posted on your Google Business listing. This is accomplished in a couple of ways.
Many review platforms tout the feature of only allowing 3-star or higher reviews to be publicly posted on Google. This is the most common method of review gating, and it is now expressly against Google policies.
Another way that businesses can artificially inflate their positive reviews is to solicit reviews only from clients that they have incentivized to write positive reviews, usually through a discount or some other form of compensation. By doing this, these practices are not showing an accurate and honest picture of their reputation and customer service practices.
What This Means for Your Practice
If you have been following review best practices and not incentivizing your reviews, you likely don’t have to change anything. However, if you’re using a review gathering platform that filters reviews before allowing them to be posted to Google, you’ll want to contact your review service provider, make sure they are aware of the new policy changes, and complying.
Reviews are a vital part of local search engine rankings, as well as converting potential clients into actual new business. Anything you can do to stay within Google’s Terms of Service while generating more positive reviews is essential.
Unfortunately, some companies are still using illegal practices that could result in their reviews being removed.
Reliable Reputation Management
Page 1 Solutions provides review marketing and management for:
- Attorneys and law firms
- Plastic surgeons, cosmetic doctors, and medical spas
- Ophthalmologists and LASIK surgeons
Instead of review gating, our reviews and ratings platforms enables clients to manage their online reputation ethically while generating more reviews, automating followup, amplifying newly posted ratings and reviews, and empowering you and your team to respond to new reviews. Sometimes a negative will get posted, but the key is not to bury this valuable feedback but thank the client or patient for their honesty and use the input to improve.
Positive reviews start with outstanding service. If your legal, medical, or dental practice is a hit with clients but they don't share their experience online, Page 1 Solutions can help. Call 800-368-9910 today for your free consultation and discussion about our reviews and ratings platform.